I have had a great first week in Ireland as a part of the Conflict and Struggle for Peace Program in Ireland and Jordan. I was lucky enough to travel the week prior to the program with my family around the west and southern coastlines which are absolutely stunning. Upon check-in at our residence, I met my eight classmates whom I will be spending the next two months with.
At orientation the next day we met with Pauline McKerrall and Professor Paul Arthur. We were given a general overview of the program and the schedule for the next two weeks. We had a walking tour of the city and the rest of the night to explore and have fun before classes started on Monday.
Professor Arthur is a true wealth of knowledge. His experience on the frontlines of the peace process makes this program a true privilege to mere college students like myself. His stories of Presidential meetings, civil rights marches, and track II diplomacy meetings provided us with an eyewitness account of how real peace happens. Engaging classroom discussion and films illustrate the peace process in a way that cannot be told by reading a textbook.
Following class, each day continued with a tour of one of the many political and history sites around the city with our amazing student life assistants Ruby and Sarah. We went to the Kilmainham Gaol, Howth Peninsula (cover photo), Leinster House, and Glasnevin Cemetery to name a few. At these sites we learned about the history of the Republic of Ireland, thereby providing a sound understanding of the structural roots of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Following these tours, which usually end around four in the afternoon, we would have the rest of the day to ourselves to tour and rest.
Moving on to Northern Ireland, I look forward to seeing the real sites where the conflict took place, and where the subsequent peace is still taking place.